NBA Sharpshooter Klay Thompson’s Lessons About Attitude and Adversity

How you can use Golden Sate Warrior’s star Klay Thompson’s lessons about attitude and adversity to achieve your goals, with a side note from the Serenity Prayer.

Klay Thompson's lessons

A COUPLE of days ago, as I was reading about NBA star Klay Thompson’s lessons imparted to some children at a school in Oakland, California, I began to ruminate on my own lessons about attitude and adversity.

Klay emphasized two things to those young, eager minds spellbound by a surprised visit from their hero:

  1. Seek out and hang with those who want to emulate; and
  2. When you shoot the ball, it either goes in or out. (More on this…)


Klay Thompson’s Lessons About Attitude and Adversity

Klay Thompson's Lessons

Kyle Boone, writing for CBS Sports, quotes Klay about how his attitude about immersing himself in the company of those he wanted to be like shaped:

I was very eager to meet NBA players or any type of professional athlete, because I aspired to be where they were one day. I wanted to be like them, jump like them.

Pause right here for a few beats and ask yourself if you’re doing this; for instance:

  • If you want to lose body fat and gain lean muscle, do you keep company with those who have done this or are on a path to achieve it?
  • If you are stressed and want to be more calm and present, do you seek to be in the company of those who practice mindfulness, or meditation?

I learned a long time ago that your thoughts and emotions make up your attitudes. Each day, I  ask myself what may be the thoughts and emotions behind a particular attitude of mine — both those that serve me well, and those that don’t.

So, when I suggest that you hang with those who have achieved what you want for yourself, examine what resistance surfaces in your mind.  Explore the thoughts and emotions behind it.  Basically, what you want to get at is why you’re not doing this, given that it’s such an important step to achieve your desires.

When it comes to adversity, the attitude you must cultivate is that you will refuse to let negative thoughts undermine what you want to experience.

Klay Thompson told those children:

Two things can happen when you shoot the ball: it’s either going to go in or it’s not. You can’t let if affect you. You just have to keep shooting, because negative times are going to happen. You have to be grown enough to just push those aside.

Attitude is everything“, so the saying goes.  A great example of this is sales.

I don’t recall where I got it from, but long ago I learned my finest sales lesson that is imminently applicable to so many things in life:

Each “no” gets you closer to “yes”.

There’s math behind this assertion. In so many instances in life, if you keep grinding through the missed shots that clunk off the rim, through the “noes”, through the failures — then there’s a high probability that eventually the ball will start swooshing through the net, the “yeses” will come, and your success will be resplendent.


Beware The Hiccup

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr

I’m using “hiccup” here as a slang term for a short-term disruption within a longer-term plan or goal.

There’s a potential hiccup in this concept of grinding things out, because it’s possible that you’ll grind yourself to dust if you never yield to adversity, or never take no for an answer, or continue to shoot even though no shot ever swishes through the hoop.

The best way I know how to express this thought is by quoting the Serenity Prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

There are three parts to the Serenity Prayer:

  1. The first asks for “the serenity to accept the things that can’t be changed;”
  2. The second asks for “the courage to change the things that can” be changed; and
  3. The third asks for “the wisdom to know the difference” between the things that can and cannot be changed.

Serenity, courage and wisdom are the three attributes that Reinhold Niebuhr considered were required to differentiate between what you should grind out and what you should, in effect, abandon.

In my experience, it’s not obvious to know if what you’re grinding away at has any chance of success.  You really need to be honest with yourself. In Klay Thompson’s case, it’s easy because he’s already proven to be an adept NBA player with uncanny shooting accuracy; thus, when he’s in a slump, it makes sense to keep grinding it out without doubting himself.

But what if your endeavor is something you’ve never done before, and therefore have no credentials, education or experience doing?  In this situation, you need to step back and be judicious in examining the reality of things.  You also need to get a reality check from friends that know you and you trust will be fair.

If you find that you consistently face repeated hiccups —  those short-term disruptions as you pursue “a longer-term plan or goal“, then you need to contemplate that Serenity Prayer, get some objective distance from your pursuit, and encourage trusted friends to weigh in.

In the final analysis, Klay Thompson’s lessons about attitude and adversity need to be placed within the context of what’s reasonably achievable given the set of factors specific to you that will determine the eventual outcome of your pursuit.

The bottom line: Be realistic in what goals you select, but once you do let  Klay Thompson’s lessons about attitude and adversity be your guide.

Last Updated on June 10, 2017 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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